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Finally, the long-awaited summer is here, and the great glorious sun is sitting in the clear blue skies ready to warm things up. For those who are on holiday, it is such a great time to have fun by the pool enjoying watermelon and ice cream. But of those of us who still got some unfinished projects in the garage, it is the most unpleasant time to complete them but they must be completed anyway. This is because temperatures during summer tend to rise so high making it difficult to work in enclosed spaces. That’s why it is important to find ways to keep garage cool to avoid missing project deadlines.
As mentioned, during summertime, temperatures outside soar very high. It gets even hotter by 5-10 degrees indoors than outside. These warm conditions make enclosed garages very unbearable and may cause productivity to go down. Most people I have talked to whose garages are not properly cooled admit that they often take a couple of breaks between tasks to cool down. This often results in summer projects that are behind schedule. Sometimes the discomfort of a hot work area may affect the quality of work. To avoid such situations, most garage owners opt for electricity powered cooling systems such as ACs and fans, which are counterproductive.
Why not use an electric fan or AC keep garage cool?
Most garage owners mount cooling fans on the ceiling or use ACs to cool down the garage during summer. Although these garage cooling options work effectively, they are counterproductive because they keep temperatures low and electricity bills high. In fact, most of the owners I have talked to who use electric fans and ACs complain about their electricity bills soaring just as high as the outside temperatures in the summer. That is why I have decided to find some more friendly garage cooling solutions that might as well keep both the temperatures and electricity bill low inside the garage during summer so that you can have a breeze completing those summer projects.
Why garage is warmer than outside
But before we delve into the natural garage cooling options, lets first find out some of the reasons why your garage may become 5-10 degrees warmer than the outside during summer? Or in other words, why summers can be unbearable inside your garage.
- Position/location of garage
Garages that face west relative to the compass are exposed to intense heat in the afternoon. Conversely, those that face east get direct sun rays in the morning. So, it is best to build your garage facing the north-south direction.
- Paint on your garage
Garage walls that have been painted in dull colors conduct more heat than the ones with bright colors. So, when choosing the color for your garage walls and roof, it is good to keep that science of colors in mind.
- Ventilation system of your garage
The presence or absence of a ventilation system in your garage determines how easy you can control the hot garage temperatures.
- Vehicle parking
Parking your car inside the garage immediately after using it keeps the ambient temperature high. On a hot day, a cooling engine may raise the temperatures inside your garage, making it unbearable.
12 Cost Effective Ways to Keep Garage Cool
The best way to keep garage cool depends mostly on your budget, nature or the design of your garage. It also depends on your willingness to try various cooling garage ideas. The following are some of the best garage cooling options I have found to work that will help keep your garage cooler this summer without increasing your electricity bill.
1. Park your car outside after a drive
On a hot summer day, it is good to leave your car outside for a while after a drive. This allows the car to cool without transferring the heat from the engine to the garage, making it unbearable to work inside. Once the car has cooled, remember to move it inside for security reasons.
2. Use bright paint colors
Light colors reflect heat and dark colors absorb heat. So, painting your garage in dark colors will make it absorb heat while bright colors will reflect the heat away, keeping the garage cool. It is advisable, therefore, to paint the exterior wall of your garage with bright colors such as white to facilitate heat reflection. This will keep the garage cooler than it would with dull colors such as black (which is a good heat absorber).
3. Ventilate naturally
Are your garage doors and windows open to enable the circulation of air? This is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to keep your garage cool in summer without incurring any extra costs. Opening the doors and windows allows air to circulate easily. It also eliminates bad smells and makes the garage less stuffy. You can enhance air circulation by putting a wind-propelled fan in the garage. If your garage is attached to the main house, please keep the door that leads to the main house locked so that toxic smells don’t get to the main house.
4. Wind driven roof exhaust fan
In cases where your garage has no windows or you want to increase the circulation of air in your garage, a ceiling fan comes in handy. However, since we want to cool the garage naturally, you can replace the ceiling fan with a wind-driven roof exhaust fan. This type of fan is driven by wind that blows on your roof and will help lower the energy cost while increasing productivity. The only limitation with this option is the fact that it is only useful if the garage is situated somewhere in the basement.
5. Upgrade the insulation
Garages are usually not well insulated, that’s why they can get extra hot during the summer and extremely cold during winter. Insulating your garage will help in maintaining the temperatures at any time of the year.
Wall insulation – most of the cool air in your garage escapes through the walls. Insulate those walls by adding foam. It will keep the cool air inside and no air will be lost to the outside. Tin foil or aluminum foil insulation is also another common insulation method. Since its invention by Professor Ernst Schmidt and Dr. Edward Dyckerhoff in 1925, aluminum foil has found many uses in the field of heat insulation (Solberg, & Sinclair, 2009). You can use it to line the inside of the wall and roof with the shiny inside out. This creates a good thermal barrier that will keep your shed cool in the summer until later afternoon.
Ceiling insulation– insulate your ceiling with foam so as to prevent any cool air from escaping through the roof.
Door insulation – A wooden door for a garage is highly recommended since wood is a natural insulator. Alternatively, you can use polystyrene or polyurethane garage doors. They are also good insulators.
Weather stripping – This involves adding silicone, tubular rubber or vinyl to your garage door or any other outlets to strip any openings and hence ensure you achieve maximum insulation.
6. Roof vent to allow air into garage
Warm air is lighter than cool air and this is because of the densities. Warm air rises and hence having a roof vent in your garage means that it will get an escape route and won’t remain trapped in the garage. This will, in turn, enable cold/cool air to enter the garage hence cooling things down.
7. Declutter your garage to enhance circulation
Always ensure that your garage is well arranged and organized. Boxes and tools all over the garage obstruct the free flow of air into and from the garage, hence poor air quality. It is always prudent, therefore, to keep your garage organized at all times. This also reduces accidents when working. For example, you can get some tool organizers such as a tool chest to keep most of your tools.
8. Choose your working hours appropriately
What hours are you usually in your garage? The sunny afternoon or the cool mornings? Always ensure that you have opened the doors and windows a few minutes/hours before you start working so as to release the trapped air. Furthermore, working during the cool morning hours, say up to 11am, goes a long way in ensuring that you are working in a cool garage environment. As such you can schedule the most taxing jobs in the morning. As for the unusually hot summer afternoons, you can schedule the light tasks or avoid the garage altogether and return at maybe 4 pm.
9. Plant trees around your garage
Having trees around your garage will provide shade so the sun rays don’t get directly in your garage during the hot days. The trees will also provide cool air which will keep your garage cool.
10. Dust collection to enhance air flow
Maximum airflow is key to keeping your workshop cool. You need to keep the air as clean as possible by using different dust collection mechanisms for your tools. For example, if your work involves cutting and grinding material, you need a dust collection set up to take away the debris in order to enhance airflow. You also need to ensure that the dust collection systems are in good working order to suction dust more effectively. Proper dust collection also keeps your lungs very healthy.
11. Dehumidifying to keep garage cool
In areas of high humidity, a dehumidifier can save the day by reducing the moisture content in your garage. This keeps the temperatures moderate thereby cooling down the garage. Dehumidifying also prevents tools from rusting thus extending their life. Contrary to the aforementioned cooling options, dehumidifying uses electricity and might slightly increase energy costs in your garage. However, the cost of operating a dehumidifier is nothing close to running an AC.
12. Swamp cooler/ evaporative cooler
Swamp coolers use the natural power of evaporation to cool indoor and outdoor space. They pull in hot and dry air through a moistened pad. The pad absorbs heat causing the moisture in it to evaporate. As a result, a cool breeze is produced that is capable of humidifying air by up to 20 degrees F. This cool air is recirculated back to your garage space, making it possible to work even on a hot summer evening. Although swamp coolers are powered by electricity, they use less power and are generally more effective than traditional ACs. Given that they use a more natural cooling mechanism, evaporative coolers typically use a tenth of what a traditional AC would use. They are also easy to use since no installation is needed.
So, if your garage space does not give you a lot of cooling options, swamp coolers are a good alternative to traditional air conditioners.
Solberg, T. A., & Sinclair., W. P. (2009). Aluminum heat insulation. Journal of the American Society for Naval Engineers, 44(2), 200–205. doi:10.1111/j.1559-3584.1932.tb05065.x